The young narrator of The Perfect Puppy for Me! begins by saying: "I love dogs. I have posters of dogs all over my room, books and videos about dogs, a hat with floppy dog ears and a clock that barks every hour. The only thing I don't have is a dog." The good news is that the unnamed narrator is going to get a pooch for his birthday; he simply needs to decide which type is best for him. Thus begins a colorful investigation of various breeds, a survey he takes by describing several neighborhood specimens, such as Duke, the German shepherd, Poker, the basset hound, Danish, the Great Dane, and Goulash, the mongrel.

Packed with plenty of information, this fun book is perfect for youngsters longing for some canine companionship. The narrator explains a few of the pros and cons of various breeds as the book progresses. What's more, each page has additional illustrations and informational tidbits (dogs don't sweat, they sleep about 16 hours a day, and chocolate, for them, is like poison.) Jessie Hartland's illustrations provide just the right light-hearted accompaniment to the text. Her artwork has appeared in Target stores, Bloomingdale's window displays and on murals at a Japanese amusement park, and here she has created a hip, energetic mood, with small tail-wagging critters and captions surrounding the main text (one sidebar provides an explanation of what moods various doggy tail positions indicate).

In the end, the perfect puppy is found. Our narrator picks a mixed breed that he dubs a "Labradoodle," a combination of Claudine, the poodle, and Jackpot, the yellow Labrador, he met earlier in the book. He names his new charge Doodle. The Perfect Puppy for Me! is an enjoyable romp through the animal world for young and old readers alike. Finding the perfect pet is never easy, but this doggone good story, with its wealth of information, can help with the quest.

Alice Cary writes from Groton, Massachusetts.


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